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Baker's Dozen

Critic's Round-Up: Mark Kermode's Favourite Albums
Marc Burrows , February 11th, 2014 08:20

The film critic, television presenter and skiffle bassist sets aside his DVD stack to talk top records with Marc Burrows


The Who - Who's Next/Quadrophenia
This is a toss-up between Who's Next and Quadrophenia; if I can have both of them that's great. Matt O'Casey made a really good documentary recently about Quadrophenia which I was involved in, and I went to see The Who perform it live. I remember seeing the record when it first came out, somebody recorded it on a cassette for me, and it sounds like it comes in in the middle, the first thing he says is, "I went back to the doctor", and you think, "have I come in on the wrong side?" It's a soundscape. It sounded like it was a soundtrack to a film, with that weird fold-out book with the photographs that told the story of Jimmy, it looked like it was the soundtrack to a film that didn't exist, then of course years later they made the film, and there are things in the film that are very directly taken from those photographs. I think the film's great incidentally, I think Franc Roddam did a brilliant job with it. It's one of those British rock movies that has really endured. When you go back to the record it has that whole soundscape, the sea and the sand, the way the sounds and themes drift in and out. I think it's better than Tommy. I like Tommy enough, but I think this is better.

As far as Who's Next goes, it's just - you know all the trouble they had making it, but you listen to it and it's just brilliant. I think Pete Townshend is just the most fantastic songwriter, the combination of him and John Entwistle and Keith Moon at that point is just astonishing. I go to Cornwall a lot, and we have this thing where whenever we drive to Cornwall we listen to Who's Next, and a lot of why you love records is to do with what you associate with them. Well I associate Who's Next with getting into the car and driving to Cornwall, which always makes me happy. The best thing is if you can manage to get that bit in 'Won't Get Fooled Again' as you go over the border, as you're coming into the last chorus; I try and time it to do that. The genius of John Entwistle is that he plays the tune on the bass - the person who is quite similar to that, and I know people will balk at this, is Jim Lea from Slade; Jim Lea was a very melodic bassist, you hear a lot of John Entwistle in it. What he's playing ought to sound like awful jazz, but is in fact brilliant. The whole of The Who's sound rests on it, this great big horn sound. Then you see films of him looking completely unbothered. It's not Mark King flashy stuff - it's not flashy for the sake of being flashy, it all serves the song.